Agreement close on new standards for European power plants

24th October 2016

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Hazel Holt

New standards for reducing emissions from large combustion plants (LCP) in Europe are close to final agreement, despite attempts by the UK and other member states to delay the vote.

Stakeholders have submitted their final opinions on the draft of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) reference document for large combustion plants, the so-called ‘LCP BREF’. It aims to cut emissions from large coal and other power plants.

Christian Schaible, industrial policy manager at the European Environmental Bureau, called on the European Commission to endorse the BREF: ‘This new document, already more than two years late, must now be formally adopted and published in the EU Journal without delay. 45,500 additional deaths have been caused by coal plants alone because of the delay in adopting these standards. Now the talking is finally over, it’s really time for action.’

According to a leaked letter, seen by the EEB, several member states are seeking to delay the BREF further. ‘It is about striking the right balance between effectively protecting people and the environment from key pollutants, without imposing a disproportionate financial cost or technical burden on industry,’ the letter says.

The letter was signed by environment minister Thérèse Coffey, together with ministers from the Czech Republic, Greece, Finland and Poland.

‘National governments demanding further delays in order to assess the economic and technical viability of BATs are being disingenuous,’ claimed Schaible. ‘The economic viability for industry must be considered against the bill currently paid by citizens in the form of air pollution’s enormous associated health costs: more than €62 billion in 2013 alone.’

The final LCP BREF contains numerous loopholes allowing the very worst polluters permission to exceed limits already being met in other parts of Europe, the EEB claimed.

Pressure to introduce tougher laws to cut power plant emissions follows growing evidence of the harmful health effects. Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud, a report by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network Europe, the WWF European Policy Office, and Sandbag, says new laws could reduce the number of premature deaths caused by coal power plants across Europe.


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